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sympathy gifts

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sympathy gift etiquette

When giving a sympathy gift after someone has suffered a loss you may find yourself worrying about the correct etiquette. What’s appropriate, what isn’t, can I give money, when should I send it etc.

Navigating what’s acceptable and what’s not can be difficult. Sending a gift after a loss is a lovely gesture but you don’t want to end up doing more harm than good.

That’s why we’ve produced this guide to sympathy gift etiquette. We hope to show you the right way to go about giving or sending someone a condolence gift that avoids any possible offence or upset.

Having said that, and not wanting to contradict ourselves, you can’t go that wrong. Just by acknowledging the loss and showing you care the bereaved are going to appreciate the effort you’ve made.

But if you want to be sure of any details or if you’re a bit worried you might get something wrong then the tips and advice below will help you to avoid any unintended mistakes.

Sympathy Gift Etiquette

These are the main things to remember when giving a sympathy gift.

  • The most important thing to takeaway from this is to make the effort.
  • Show you care by giving a gift, be that money (a minimum of $30 is recommended), a present or even something like your time – chores, cooking etc.
  • A gift of service – a cleaner, helping with chores, picking the kids up from school etc is often the most useful to those grieving.
  • Food is also a great choice for a gift that the bereaved can really use and benefit from.
  • A donation in the deceased’s name is a touching gesture.
  • If you decide on a monetary gift then don’t feel the need to tell the recipients about it, just put a check or cash in a card.
  • There’s no time limit but try sending it as soon as you can.
  • And don’t be put off sending a gift to a friend even if you didn’t know the deceased.
  • sympathy gift etiquette tips

    Is a Sympathy Gift Appropriate?

    Yes. When mourning a loss it can be comforting to have friends and family reach out with their sympathy and support in the form of a gift. Knowing there are people thinking of you as you grieve can provide real comfort. So it is appropriate to send a gift to the immediate family members, or in fact any members of the family of the deceased.

    The only time when it may not be inappropriate is if there is a specific religious custom that says gifts are unacceptable.

    If you need any help deciding on a gift then try our guide to sympathy gift ideas or some unique sympathy gifts.

    Who do you to send a Sympathy Gift to?

    Who you address and send your gift to will depend to some extent on your relationship with the deceased. If it’s a friend that has lost someone then you can address it to your friend ‘and family’. If you didn’t know the deceased or the family well – they were just an acquaintance for example – then it is probably best to address it to ‘the [name] family’.

    If in doubt though then just send and address your gift to the family in general of whoever it is that has passed away.

    When do you Send a Sympathy Gift?

    The best time to send a sympathy gift is as soon as possible. If you leave it too long it could seem like you have forgotten or don’t care enough. So try to act as fast as you can. If you’re sending flowers or a memorial gift for the funeral then they should be sent on the day of the funeral service.

    Whilst as soon as you can is definitely preferable don’t be put off sending a gift even if you feel you’re late. Any time is better than never at all.

    Sometimes larger or more personalized gifts require time and planning. If that is the case then you could send a smaller gift first – just something like a card and flowers – to acknowledge the death and then the more personal gift at a later date.

    What is an Appropriate Sympathy Gift?

    There is no wrong or right answer here. If you give any sympathy gift it is going to show you’ve made an effort and that’s the most important thing. Be it flowers for the funeral, a gift basket or even a simple card, the bereaved will appreciate the gesture and knowing you care.

    A card with a few words of sympathy or condolence is the simplest way to reach out to those mourning a loss. But you may feel that doesn’t constitute a gift and prefer something more substantial.

    Sending flowers is the most traditional way to say sorry for a loss. It’s probably the safest gift you can give as you can’t really go wrong with flowers. There are so many florists, both stores and online, that cater specifically for sympathy arrangements that it’s very easy to send the bereaved family a beautiful bunch of flowers with a note to say how sorry you are.

    Food is also a good and safe choice. There are many sympathy gift baskets that offer nourishing and appetising food to those grieving.

    A personalized gift is very popular as well. You can create a photo album of the deceased, a pendant or locket with their picture or a keepsake box with special memories are just a few good options.

    You should have known the deceased well if you’re going to personalize a gift though. Otherwise it could see a little odd and be uncomfortable for the family.

    What is Appropriate to Send to a Grieving Family?

    Sending a card or letter to the family with flowers is always an appropriate gift for those grieving. It’s the most common way to express your condolences and a touching way to demonstrate your sadness for their loss.

    A charitable donation in the deceased’s name is a great way to honor them. You can send a card or note to the family with the details of what you gave and to which charity.

    A sympathy food or gift basket that could contain things like nuts, fruit and dried fruit, baked goods desserts, chocolates and more is a touching gift that also provides sustenance to those who may not feel up to cooking whilst coping with their grief.

    For even more ideas we have a guide looking at the best sympathy gift ideas for every type of loss.

    Should I Wrap Sympathy Gifts? 

    If you’re sending flowers or a card then the florists or company will take care of the packaging and how they look. If you’ve bought a gift and are going to be sending it in the post or giving it in person then wrapping it in some tasteful and fitting paper would definitely add to and make it special.

    This isn’t a necessity though and the bereaved will appreciate your gift whether you choose to wrap it or not.

    Is it Customary to Give Money in a Sympathy Card?

    It is very much acceptable to give money as a gift but not necessary. Whilst it may seem like a bit of a non-gift, and an easy way to avoid choosing something meaningful, money often turns out to be the most helpful and appreciated gift.

    That’s because losing someone can cause financial hardships to the family. Funeral expenses can be very high and if the deceased was someone who contributed to the families income then to lose that leaves a hole behind that needs filling.

    When giving money do so in the most sensitive way you can. It can be embarrassing for families to need extra help in this way and a real hit to someone’s pride. So you should do all you can to make it less uncomfortable for them.

    Try to be discreet about it and just place the cash or cheque inside a sympathy card before sending or giving it to the grieving family member. Don’t make a big deal about or draw attention to it.

    How Much Money Should you Give in a Sympathy Card?

    There aren’t any rules around the amount of money you should give. The best way to decide is to consider the situation of the deceased’s family and how much they are going to need. And of course you need to keep in mind your own finances and what you can realistically afford.

    A close relative or friend of yours will warrant a greater amount than a casual acquaintance. And a family that is struggling financially will need more than a family that is obviously comfortable or well off.

    Should I Send a Gift Even if there isn’t a Funeral Service?

    Yes, absolutely. The lack of a funeral service doesn’t mean the family of the deceased aren’t grieving. People choose to honor and pay their respects in different ways and that may sometimes not include a service. But they are still coping with a loss and so will appreciate friends and loved ones reaching out with gifts to comfort them and show people care.

    So you should still send a gift and offer you condolences for their loss.

    Should I Send a Gift if the family Requested a Charitable Donation “in Lieu of Flowers”?

    When families ask not to have flowers sent and prefer a donation that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want any sort of gift, full stop. In fact they may receive a touching and thoughtful gift with gratitude and appreciation.

    However, it is best to use your own judgement. Each situation will be different. Consider what the family are like and whether their request for a charitable donation is in keeping with their history. Are they a family that is very social conscious, do they request birthday and Christmas presents to be donations to charity?

    If there is a pattern then perhaps they would always prefer any gesture to be in the form of a donation rather than something for themselves. But in many instances you can both give a donation and a gift to the family without fear of upsetting them.

    SEE MORE: ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ Alternatives and Etiquette

    Is it Appropriate to Send a Sympathy Gift After the Funeral?

    Yes. Whilst sending a gift as soon as you learn of the death is recommended it can be comforting for the family to receive something after the stress and pain of the funeral too.

    Grieving doesn’t end or stop after a funeral. It will continue on for however long is necessary and during that time the support and love of friends will be essential. So a gift to show your support and to lift the spirits of those mourning is a lovely gesture that will be appreciated regardless of it being after the funeral.

    Should I Send a Gift on the Anniversary of the Death?

    The anniversary of a death can be a really hard time for the grieving family and friends. It’s also something that isn’t discussed or considered enough about when we think of grief and his it affects people. So to receive a gift and know that others have remembered the anniversary can be a real comfort.

    A memorial gift that commemorates the life of someone passed away is a wonderful gesture. Giving the family a gift like this on the anniversary of their death will be greatly welcomed and help them to remember their lost loved one.

    Should I Expect to Receive a Thank You Card for a Sympathy Gift? 

    The bereaved may send a thank you note or message but you shouldn’t expect one. Grief affects people in different ways. Some can cope and carry on their normal life without it causing too much interruption. Others struggle enormously. The grief can cause them to even function properly. Getting through each day is hard enough.

    So if someone is affected badly the last thing they are going to be thinking about is sending a thank you card for a gift they’ve received.

    But that doesn’t mean they aren’t grateful. And it certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send one. The act of giving should be the reward, and knowing it may help those going through such pain to not feel as alone.


    Knowing the correct etiquette for giving a sympathy gift can be tough, and the worry about getting it wrong all too real. Hopefully this guide will have helped to put to bed any worries you have and give you the confidence to show your support with a comforting and thoughtful gift.

    And really that’s the most important thing to remember. A gift will provide some comfort amongst the pain and grief of a loss. So the main thing to takeaway from this is that giving a gift is always a touching gesture and one you should try to do if you can.

    sympathy gift etiquette

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    sympathy gift ideas for loss of husband

    If you know of someone who has suffered the loss of their husband then you are probably thinking of sending a sympathy gift.

    A moving gift to offer your condolences is a thoughtful gesture. Those grieving an awful loss will appreciate you taking the time to think of them during such a tough period.

    But you might be finding it hard to decide on what to send as your gift. What could possibly make up for or help when someone has lost their husband?

    The answer to that is simple: nothing.

    But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send a gift. Or that they won’t appreciate it.

    A well thought out gift can provide some comfort and let the bereaved know that people are thinking of them.

    Just knowing you are in the thoughts of friends and family can be beneficial whilst you deal with your grief. And some gifts can provide real help.

    So if you aren’t sure what sort of gift to send then try these sympathy gift ideas for the loss of a husband.

    Hopefully they will provide you with inspiration for the best sympathy gift you can get. One that will offer a little support and comfort to whoever it is dealing with their grief.

    Sympathy Gift Ideas for Loss of Husband

    Memorial jewellery is a lovely gift for someone who has lost their husband. It allows them to have a constant reminder of that person with them at all times.

    It’s also a beautiful item that serves as a keepsake and everlasting memory of all they meant to the bereaved.

    Personalising the jewellery, in this case a necklace, just makes it extra special. Having the name of the deceased husband with you, near your heart, it’s a moving gesture and gift.

    A warm and comforting throw or blanket is a lovely way to offer your condolences and support after a partner lose their husband.

    A blanket gives you the chance to snuggle up under it when feeling down. It’s reassuring and soothing to those feeling lost or overwhelmed.

    This throw by Chanasya provides comfort to those grieving or unwell. It measures 65×50″ and has a variety of colors available. A wife or partner mourning the loss of their husband would love the soft fabric to wrap themselves in when they need some consoling.

    A memory box likes this one gives the bereaved the chance to keep, display and remember all those discuss memories. From trinkets and keepsakes to their most treasured photos, a memory box is ideal for never forgetting your deceased husband.

    This box can be personalized by adding an engraving to really make it special.

    A very moving gift that would be treasured and used for years to come by whoever you give it to.

    Plaques in the memory of the deceased are a common gift. But that’s for a reason.

    A plaque dedicated to loved ones no longer with us remind us of them. They help us to keep that memory alive, and to never forget.

    This plaque allows for personalization with the deceased name and a chosen sentiment. It’s a touching tribute to a husband who had so sadly passed away.

    A wind chime gives a gentle reminder of someone you’ve lost with it’s peaceful, soft song. They can be placed in a suitable location that is special to the bereaved where they will be able to listen to their music and remember their lost husband.

    The Carson Home Accents Wind Chime has a lovely, gentle but full tone to go along with its effortless and tasteful design.

    Each tube has an engraving of “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day… unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear”. A moving sentiment to remember a passed husband and bring comfort to those mourning.

    When we lose someone special remembering them is so important. We don’t want to forget everting they did for us and the huge part of our lives they were.

    So having something you can go to, can sit with and remember the deceased is invaluable. That’s what makes this memorial bench such a fitting gift.

    Comes with the inscription “May you find comfort in the arms of an angel” on top.

    Many of the books that look at loss and grief can be extremely useful to those going through a bereavement. A fresh perspective on how to cope with a significant loss like your husband is going to be really helpful.

    Or even just reading about others going through a similar situation and that what you’re feeling isn’t unusual can be calming. It’s easy to feel like you’re spinning out of control and are the only one affected by grief this way.

    ‘How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies’ by Dr. Therese Rando takes you through how to recover from losing someone important to you and looks at the grieving process in detail. It’s a great choice for anyone grieving the loss of their husband but also any loss at all.

    Caring Sympathy Gift Ideas after Losing a Husband

    Sometimes the person you’re giving a gift too really needs assistance. A thoughtful memorial gift is perfect for some but others would benefit far more from something that actually helps them.

    If you think that might be the case then try these sympathy gifts that

    Grief can do terrible things to us. Both physically and mentally.

    When we’re faced with the hardship and pain of trying to get through a loss it can be so draining. Combined with maybe needing to look after children, do chores and housework etc. it can be too much for many of us.

    So a really thoughtful gift to someone who has lost their husband would be to give them a break from all that. A way for them to have a rest.

    A day or few hours at a spa is the perfect gift in this situation. Spafinder do gifts cards for massages, facials and more that can help relieve some of the stress of dealing with grief. Give a spa gift card to anyone who

    When coping with loss and the grief it brings even the normal, everyday parts of life become hard. Something as basic as preparing food can seem like a mammoth task.

    So receiving a gift of food that’s ready prepared for you can be so helpful.

    A sympathy gift basket or food box that comes with a range of different, ready to eat treats will be warmly appreciated as a gift after a loss.

    This gift basket is hand assembled in the USA and features sweets, crackers, dips and more.

    Much like the spa gift card for a wife who’s lost her husband, a husband who’s lost his wife will also appreciate a gift that helps him to deal with the practicalities of such a loss.

    So a gift of help can be massively appreciated. A gift card for professional cleaning will reduce the burden of keeping things tidy whilst trying to process the tragic loss.

    Other Gift Ideas

    A Memorial Photo – you can find memorial photos on Amazon or on Etsy there are some brilliant artists who can customize and personalize photos of the deceased to be given as a gift. A photo of the sadly passed husband will make a beautiful reminder for the bereaved.

    Plants or Flowers – flowers are a very traditional gift or way to offer your sympathy but plants work well too. You can get trees of sympathy that can grow into a reminder of the deceased. Or even seed kits to grow into a beautiful garden of remembrance.

    A Sympathy Card – you may just want to send a card along with another gift. But you might decide that a card is enough or anything more inappropriate.

    An Amazon Gift Card – it might seem a little thoughtless or basic but an Amazon Gift Card allows the bereaved to decide exactly what they want. It means you won’t end up giving them the wrong thing or something they didn’t really need/want.

    Tips for Choosing a Sympathy Gift

    • Your gift should take into consideration any faith that the recipient follows. Religion and spirituality may influence the type of gift that is suitable so always keep that in mind.
    • Think about the sort of gift you might like to receive. It can be tricky to put yourself in the place of someone mourning such a loss but it will help you to make the right choice.
    • Send your gift with an accompanying sympathy card and >a href=”/sympathy-card-messages/”>message.


    The loss of a husband is going to cause a profound and deep grief that lasts, in some form at least, a lifetime. So realistically a gift can’t do much to make up for that loss.

    But that shouldn’t be your aim. Your sympathy gift should show you’re thinking of your friend or family member who has lost their partner. It should demonstrate they have your support and you’re love.

    As long as it achieves that then it will have served its purpose. So don’t get too caught up in making it perfect.

    Just try to reach out with something from the heart that you think they will like. If you do that then you can be confident your gift will be received with appreciation and gratitude.

    sympathy gift ideas for loss of husband

    Unique Sympathy Gifts

    If you’re writing a sympathy card message to send or give to someone then you may be thinking of including a gift to go with it. Offering a touching and thoughtful gift to the bereaved is a generous gesture that can really brighten their day.

    During a time where they probably feel most alone this can be a real comfort, especially if the gift is one that comes from the heart and reaches out to them.

    But you may be struggling with what gift to get. The usual sympathy gifts can be cliche and seem like no thought was required before giving them.

    Sometimes it can be nice to give something a little different and unique. There’s nothing wrong with flowers, plants or a memorial plaque. Often these will be the most appropriate.

    But there are many options out there that can offer something more personal, have a deeper meaning and connection, and really make a difference.

    That’s why we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the most different and unique sympathy gifts out there. So if you want an alternative to flowers then look no further. We’re sure you’ll find something that really stands out and hopefully provides real warmth in such a trying period.

    Unique Sympathy Gifts

    Whilst we haven’t ranked these gifts in any sort of an order, we do feel this is probably the best of them all. Or at the least what we believe will be the most beneficial to anyone coping with a loss. The gift of a professional service like a housekeeper or organiser to remove the strain of day to day tasks whilst grieving can be invaluable.
    A housekeeper or cleaning service can provide the time needed to heal without having to deal with everyday chores. Or it can allow for a family to begin sorting their loved ones possessions. Alternatively there are professionals who can be hired specifically to help with the sorting of a loved ones things. They can assist and make the process much easier.

    A good place to start with a grief organiser is searching for anyone local in your area. For a cleaning service there is Handy, who offer top-rated home cleaning services professionals in both the US and UK.

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    A charitable donation in the name of the deceased is a great gift. Often people feel awkward about giving to charity as a gift because they worry it will make them look cheap. Or they believe a gift should be given to the person themselves. But when it comes to sympathy gifts the bereaved aren’t expecting, nor will they want, some sort of item to make up for their loss.

    So donating to a charity the deceased was known to be involved with or supported is perfect. Or even one that reflects the interests and hobbies they had would work, e.g. if they were passionate about the environment then maybe give to Greenpeace. Alternatively if they were religious you can always give to their church or place of worship. And if they suffered from a known illness then a charity that researches or raises awareness for it will enable the family to feel like a very small positive has come from their passing.

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    A memorial tree (a tree that is planted in honor of the deceased) is a fantastic sympathy gift. A tree or shrub can memorialise a loved one and work as a reminder of them to the family. They grow and bloom as do the memories of the recipients loved one and act as a tranquil place to cherish those special memories. You can even place a remembrance stone, plaque or bench with the tree so their legacy can live on for generations.

    When choosing a tree you may want to pick one that the deceased had a connection to. Perhaps it shares their name, or reflects their personality. You can also donate the tree to an organisation or specific place the deceased loved, perhaps a park. It’s also very popular to scatter the ashes around the planted tree so keep that in mind when choosing one.

    Even if the bereaved isn’t much of a reader a book that can help with the grieving process or offer support can be an extremely useful gift. There are countless books out there that relate to grief and loss. You could look at poetry and quotes, religious themed texts, memoirs of those who have suffered from serious illnesses, or ones that are uplifting and positive.

    A popular choice is A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. It was written after his wife’s death and reflects on life and death amidst his bereavement and loss. Whilst it had some religious tones that hasn’t kept it from being appreciated by many non-believers.

    You could also ignore books focusing on grief and death and pick something that has no relation to it whatsoever. An novel that helps the bereaved escape into another world for a short time and help them to forget their pain.

    Losing a loved one causes an understandably high amount of stress. Not only through the pain of that loss, which can take its toll physically as well as mentally, but having to deal with everything surrounding a death. Funeral preparations, sorting and organising possessions, will arrangements etc. So an excellent gift you can give is one that helps the bereaved to take care of themselves. A spa gift card or massage is ideal for this.

    Spafinder gift cards are perfect as you can easily purchase the gift card and either send or give it to the person. They are then redeemable in many locations across the country (both US and UK). You can get massages, manicures, pedicures, the full spa experience and more. Give the bereaved have a break from the hard times they are going through and the opportunity to relax for a short period.

    Jewellery, unlike flowers or a plant, is something that can last a lifetime. Giving a piece of jewellery that the bereaved can wear to remember their lost loved one is the perfect way to keep those memories alive and close to them. A beautiful and touching item can become a treasured gift that they will cherish as part of the grieving process and for years to come.

    The Comfort Company’s Teardrop Pendant is a sterling silver pendant that features a forget-me-not flower as decoration, custom gift box, and a hot foil stamped enclosure card with sympathy verse.

    Much like jewellery, a wind chime is a long lasting and special way to remember a loved one. Wind chimes can be hung in a variety of places (the garden, porch, or spots that are reminders of the lost friend or family member) and as the breeze blows you are reminded of the deceased through the gentle music they play. Personalised messages or memorials can also be engraved on the chimes to make them even more special.

    A very popular memorial chime is Woodstock’s ‘Amazing Grace’ Chime that is tuned to the inspiring tones heard in the opening measures of Amazing Grace, one of America’s best loved and most widely known hymns. Amazing Grace has played an important role in drug and alcohol recovery, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and 9/11. It’s message of hope and redemption from over 200 years ago resonates with the same power today, and makes for a touching remembrance gift.

    When there’s a bereavement the children often get overlooked. This could be because the parents feel awkward discussing it, think children aren’t affected as much by a death, or just amongst the grief they’re somewhat forgotten. So a gift that is specifically for the children of a family that’s going through a loss, and can help to keep the children distracted and their mind on something else, will be warmly received.

    A book that either the child can read themselves or be read to them is a good choice. Alternatively a creative game or art project that allows the child to express any feelings they currently have but may be struggling to put into words is also a good option. None of these have to be grief related, just something that can help the child grieve there own way and feel included.

    A memory chest or memento box is a somewhere that keepsakes and memories of a loved lost one can be stored. They can also act as a place to keep ashes in a temporary urn. Many who have lost someone want something to help remember them and keep those memories alive. A memory box is the perfect choice in this case.

    The Cottage Garden Bereavement Remembrance Keepsake Box holds those special memories in a beautiful lined box with a heartfelt poem. The artwork can be replaced with a treasured photo of a loved one. Included with the box is a package of 20 decorative Comfort Cards that are titled ‘Remember When’ for you and your loved ones to write precious memories and keep.

    A great way to give a selection of smaller gifts for an entire family, rather than one person, is with a sympathy gift basket. These are either baskets filled with a range of items/food to be sent as a condolence gift or you can choose the products to go in the basket yourself. Flowers are sometimes included, as well as a card or note. You can then have the basket sent directly to the bereaved or delivered to yourself and then give it to them in person.

    Fanciful Gift Baskets have a great selection of different condolence baskets, as well as having the option to create your own custom one and include all the items you want.

    A good choice for a food basket is the Oh! Nuts Nut and Dried Fruit Gift Basket. Filled with very healthy dried fruit and nuts, it’s a perfect choice for a vegan or vegetarian and is gluten free. Alternatively for something a bit more decadent try Nikki’s Sincere Sympathy Condolence Gift Basket that’s filled with treats such as sugar cookies, Camembert cheese, butter toffee peanuts, caramel corn and more.

    A memory quilt is created with old clothing or pieces of material that have a link to the deceased and hold significant value for the family. They are sewn together to create a quilt that tell a story of their loved one; a constant reminder if their life. Memory quilts are lovely to both make and give, and seeing as there will be nothing else out there the same they are a totally unique sympathy gift.

    You can find so many books with different ideas and tutorials for creating beautiful memory quilts. If you’re not a sewer, and many of you won’t be, don’t fear! There are companies who will make a memory quilt to order and even have the option to having your choice of special photos put on individual fabric squares. QuiltKeepsake do some lovely bereavement quilts and are very easy to order from.

    A memory or keepsake jar is a really touching little gift. It can be used in two different ways: to be filled with mementos and memories of the deceased like photos, drawings, notes, letters etc. and stand as a memorial to them that family members and friends can quickly take a look at and be reminded if them. This type of memory jar can be handmade from simple items such as a regular jam jar. Perfect for kids to create themselves as a memorial for a family member. The other jar is one you buy and comes with a selection of uplifting and positive sympathy messages that can be opened each day to help bring comfort to the grieving.

    One of the most popular keepsake jars is the KindNotes Glass Sympathy Keepsake Gift Jar of Messages. It comes with 31 thoughtful messages enclosed in mini decorative envelopes to be opened each day or anytime they need a lift. It’s a thoughtful gift that keeps on giving, one that can be enjoyed day after day.

    A care or gift package is a lovely gesture showing you care and are thinking of the grieving. With sympathy care packages you get items that help to show support, bring comfort, inspire and even motivate your family it friends who have suffering a loss.

    Uplift Gift design sympathy gift packages for friends and family in pain, especially when they are grieving after losing a loved one. These are care packages that help comfort the living, gifts to recognize a death in the family, and a support for those left to carry on. Individually-wrapped, hand-selected, curated items in beautifully-designed packages show you care.

    Food may seem an odd choice but actually bringing or cooking food for a bereaved family is a really useful and practical gift. When going through a painful loss one of the last things anyone will be thinking about is cooking. So having ready to eat food provided or some that is simple to reheat can be extremely helpful. If the bereaved family is having people over to wish them condolences then having food they can serve with it having to think about it is another really positive aspect to it as a gift.

    If you’re not much of a cook yourself then buying food from a restaurant or store is perfectly acceptable. But if you like to cook then homemade is always well appreciated. Even more so if you know the families favourite foods. Pies, casseroles, deli platters and similar are great savoury options. As with the gift baskets above fruit and nuts are great healthier options. If they like tea and coffee then they’re always good choices for drinks.

    Be wary of any allergies or specific dietary requirements though. And giving the good in easily disposable containers makes it simpler for the family to avoid any cleaning and returning of tupperware, for example.

    Throughout time people have painted portraits and pictures of loved ones who have passed away as a way to remember them. A beautiful memorial portrait serves as a reminder of the dead and helps to keep them alive and in our thoughts.

    Having a memorial portrait commissioned is definitely a tricky gift to arrange and certainly won’t be a common idea. But if you have a good photo of the deceased, or can ask the family for one, then you can take that to a professional artist who will recreate it as a portrait. Searching your local area for talented artists is a good way to find someone who can create a striking and beautiful portrait. Alternatively you can use Paint Your Life’s memorial portraits service to find an artist you like.

    Handmade gifts are always well received because they show a degree of effort, time and thought dedicated to them. They can be personalised and designed specifically for the recipient.

    Even if you’re not the crafty type or aren’t good with your hands then you can still make something basic. A handmade card instead of a store bought one is fairly simple to do. There are many tutorials and guides online to help you, with videos websites like YouTube. You could also buy a handmade item from somewhere like Etsy that allows for it to be personalised.

    This may seem like a strange ‘gift’ but in actual fact you could argue it’s the most important. During the aftermath of a loss there are so many emotions and feelings the bereaved will go through. Throw into the mix all the admin and organisational side of dealing with a death you have and it becomes a hectic, incredibly difficult time for all involved to deal with. So if a friend or family member can step in and help out with parts of it that can be a real benefit to the family and help to relieve some of the pressure.

    It doesn’t have to be anything particularly involved or difficult. If it’s a family who have suffered a loss then perhaps you could offer to pick up or take the kids to school. Or look after them whilst the rest of the family deals with some of the admin aspects of the deceased. Doing some of the mundane chores and jobs around the house is always useful, or maybe even helping with the funeral arrangements. Whatever they need just offer your time and help and you can be very confident it will be hugely appreciated.

    Hopefully this will have given you some inspiration for giving someone a unique sympathy gift as a way to show your condolences. Just remember that reaching out to offer your support and being there for those who have suffered a loss is essential. Gifts are nice, but the comfort and support of a friend is far more beneficial.

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    sympathy gift ideas

    When someone has suffered a loss we tend to reach out with support and offer our condolences. This can be with words but we often send something too – a condolence card, maybe a bouquet of flowers, or a gift of sympathy. When you’ve experienced a bereavement receiving a heartfelt and thoughtful gift can be a bit of light amongst the darkness. It’s not going to instantly stop the pain and grief, obviously, but it can be a lovely gesture that brings a moment of relief to those suffering.

    So if you’re looking to buy or send a sympathy gift – where do you start? It can be difficult deciding on what to get someone who is dealing with a bereavement. You want it to be heart-warming and personal but also appropriate to the situation. There’s a lot of choices, from standard flowers and gift baskets to more left field options. So knowing which would be right for you, and also coming up with different ideas isn’t easy.

    That’s what this guide is intended to do. To take your through what we think are the best sympathy gift ideas that should hopefully make finding the perfect condolence gift that bit easier. We feel confident that you will discover a gift that is both moving and fitting for expressing your sympathy, and will provide some comfort in a truly dreadful time.

    This guide begins with looking at the etiquette around sending a memorial gift. If you want to get straight to the ideas then please use the links below to get to the desired section.

    Table of Contents
    What is an Appropriate Sympathy Gift?
    What can you Send Other than Flowers?
    Can I Give Money?
    Can it be Delivered?
    Sympathy Gift Ideas
    For Loss of a Parent
    For Loss of a Child
    For Loss of a Partner
    For Loss of Pets
    Inexpensive Gift Ideas

    What is an Appropriate Sympathy Gift?

    A fitting sympathy gift is one that demonstrates you’ve put thought and effort into it. Whilst flowers are fine, and a good choice for many situations, choosing something like a picture frame containing a photo of the deceased or a donation to their favorite charity shows extra time taken to personalise a gift, and a degree of care and attention dedicated to the decision. This will be appreciated far more than a standard, generic gift.

    What can you Send Other than Flowers?

    Flowers are ideal to send to a funeral, or with a sympathy gift, but sometimes you want something more personal and heartfelt. A few good options are:

    • Food – everyone needs food, especially with the strain of grief and bereavement. You can either buy some or bake your own.
    • A Plant – a plant will last unlike a bouquet of flowers which has a short life span.
    • Donation to Charity – you can pick something close to the deceased’s heart and give a donation in their behalf.
    • Jewellery – a beautiful locket or pendant is a simple but elegant gift to remember someone with.
    • A Candle – a very popular remembrance gift for families to think of their passed loved one.

    Can I Give Money?

    This is a bit of a contentious question. Different people will give different answers. The correct one is – it depends. Some relatives or families will find it insulting, some will be perfectly fine with it. One thing you can do is if you know the deceased championed a cause or had a favorite charity then you could donate some money to one of those then send that in a sympathy card or with a gift.

    Can it be Delivered?

    Giving a gift in person is always more intimate but sometimes isn’t practical. So having your gift delivered is completely acceptable. Many shops and retailers will offer to deliver your items for you as well as doing special gift wrapping.

    Sympathy Gift Ideas

    Food is very much an underrated gift. Especially when it comes to offering support for a bereavement. Grief after a loss is emotionally and physically draining. So you need sustenance to keep you going. But the last thing many people grieving will want to do is think about food or cooking. So having a gift or gifts of some appetising, tasty and easy to prepare/readymade food is going to be appreciated greatly.

    One of, if not the best when it comes to sympathy food and gift boxes is Harry & David. They do an excellent range of sympathy gift boxes, as well as pies, ice cream, flowers and more, but actually many of their food boxes would be suitable for someone dealing with a loss, not just the ones specific to sympathy. We like the Sympathy Bakery Gift Tray but you can browse the entire range to see if a different item is a better fit for your gift.

    As mentioned above, making a donation in the name of deceased to a favoured charity of theirs is a great way of personalising a gift. Donations are sometimes tricky gifts to give as there can be a perception of it being either cheap or avoiding a ‘proper’ gift. Nothing could be further from the truth. A charitable donation is far more thoughtful and considered than something like a standard bunch of flowers. It also leaves behind a small legacy and does some good in the world, which is a fitting tribute to the loved one who passed away. It’s also worth remembering that the bereaved don’t want and won’t be expecting gifts. Nothing can bring back their lost loved one, a gift won’t do that, so they aren’t going to feel aggrieved you’ve chosen to make a donation instead of something for them.

    You must know the deceased had some particular charities or causes they championed though. It doesn’t have to be what we might think of as a commonplace charity. You could donate to a cause or hobby they were very keen on – sport, music etc. If they had a religious side to them and visited a place of worship regularly then that would also be a good choice. Whatever it is it should be something that was close to their heart and reflects well on the type of person they were.

    A wind chime offers a peaceful and serene gift to remember someone dear to you. The gentle music they emit can be a reminder of those no longer with us and they can be hung or placed in a fitting location for the deceased.

    The Carson Home Accents Wind Chime is an elegant and simple design that has a rich and full tone. The chime tubes have the following message engraved on them: “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day… unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear”. Alternatively we’ve also recommended the Woodstock Chimes Amazing Grace Chime in the past, which is very popular. Either make a touching gift of remembrance and will bring a sense of comfort to the recipient all year round.

    A personalised gift is always a thoughtful and lovely way to offer your sympathy. Gifting something that is custom made specifically for the bereaved, usually featuring the deceased in some way, shows a lot of thought and attention has been taken. Plus it will be something that can be kept forever as a reminder of that person.

    This engraved crystal heart by A&B Crystal Collection features a photo of your choosing, a custom message of up to 40 characters and is a beautiful way to remember someone. It comes in a blue silk inlayed keepsake gift box and if you require further customisation then the company are open to discussions if you contact them.

    Choosing a photo print or picture frame as your gift works well because it allows for personalisation, is very much a gift that remembers the deceased and also will last a lifetime. They can be treasured as keepsakes to never forget those who have passed away and commemorate their life.

    The VILIGHT Memorial Picture Frame will become a treasured condolence for a lost loved one. It measures W 10.6″ x D 8″ x H 1″ and holds a photo sized 6″ x 4″. It features the quote: “Your life was a blessing, your memory a treasure. You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure” and comes with beautiful handmade string art heart.

    The beauty of a lantern as opposed to a candle is it’s lifespan. Candles have a limited number of uses, whereas a lantern can last forever. The LED means no issues with flames, burning or wax. And they’re often very decorative pieces that look good in any spot the recipient chooses to display them.

    The Carson Memorial Lantern has a built in auto-timer, a subtle flameless LED light, can be hung or free standing and comes inscribed with the sentiment “Because someone we love is in heaven… there is a little bit of heaven in our home”. A little more expensive and also by Carson is the Memories Wooden & Stainless Steel Lantern that is noticeably larger.

    When experiencing the grief that comes from a loss it can be overwhelming. Having support and comfort is key. So gifts that help to relieve that burden, however small, can be really helpful and hugely appreciated. That’s why something that is warm, reassuring and comforting like a blanket or throw works very well.

    The Chanasya blanket is ideal for snuggling up under on the couch or used in a small bed (like a child’s). Measuring 65×50″ and coming in a range of different colours, it is extra soft and and designed to provide warm comfort to those feeling unwell, going through difficult times or need cheering up.

    A keepsake box is very popular as a sympathy gift. It allows for the recipient to fill it with mementos and items from the deceased’s past. The type of things that can be looked back on and will capture the special memories of their passed loved one. Having a personalized, beautiful area that is dedicated to the life of someone so important will be a fitting tribute to the life they lead and impact they had.

    The Cottage Garden ‘Until We Meet Again’ keepsake box is lined with black velvet and has a wood grain finish. It measures approximately 9.5 x 7.5 x 3.5 inches and comes with 12 ‘Remembering When’ cards for you to write personalized messages on. The artwork it comes with can be swapped for a photo of your own choosing.

    Jewellery, like a locket or pendant, can make a very thoughtful sympathy gift. Being able to keep the memory of someone close to you and have it as a constant reminder is a deep and meaningful present. Jewellery, if good quality, will last a long time as well.

    Having it personalized is a great added touch too. Including a message that’s special to the bereaved or a photo of the deceased is the ideal way to create a gift that will be treasured forever.

    There are a lot of good options for custom jewellery on Etsy. Take a look at what’s available but it’s probably best if possible to avoid something cheap. You will want decent, quality jewellery for something this important.

    There have been many books written regarding grief and loss. Some are much better than others. Others are good but very specific to certain situations, so won’t be relatable for everyone. But they can be excellent gifts and of great help to those trying to process their grief.

    One of the best is ‘How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies’ by Dr. Therese Rando. You are guided through the process of grief and given practical advice for how to recover after experiencing a loss.

    Another worth mentioning is ‘It’s OK that You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture that Doesn’t Understand’ by Megan Divine. This works well for the people supporting those who are dealing with the grief and helping them to know how to act and provide the necessary care.

    For Loss of a Parent

    Losing a mother or father is absolutely tragic. Our parents are so important to us and can never be replaced. So if a friend or acquaintance has lost their mother or father these gifts are a good way to reach out and send your condolences.

    This remembrance heart by Magara is a charming and beautiful keepsake to help never forget a passed mother. It reads “A Mother’s embrace will last forever. In Loving Memory” a sentiment that will resonate with most of us. Measuring 6″ x 6″ x 1″ it’s a great memento for keeping a mom in your thoughts.

    Alternatively, although we already chose a picture frame as one of our gift ideas above the one by The Grandparent Gift Co. seems very suited and popular for the loss of a mother.

    Buying for someone who’s father has passed away is tricky. There are a couple of good choices though.

    On Etsy you can have a
    pillow made from a garment of the deceased’s father
    . For example the pillow could be from his favourite shirt. The only drawback to this is you need to have access to an item of their clothing.

    For a daughter who has lost her dad Susan Lordi’s carved figurine is a touching example of the father-daughter relationship. It celebrates the bond of love between fathers and daughters and is a timely reminder of the ties spent with your father.

    For Loss of a Child

    There is nothing worse than losing your child. The pain is unimaginable. If someone you know has lost their son or daughter then they will need their friends and family around for support and comfort. Send one of these gifts to show you’re there for them and hopefully offer some minor comfort.

    Buying for someone who has lost their child is probably the trickiest out of all condolence gifts. There’s a lot of choice available but somehow very little of it feels quite right. So it may be best to go for something less obvious.

    One of the first ideas listed in this guide for a gift was food. Whilst it’s not a traditional gift it’s arguably more useful and helpful to someone grieving. Giving up your time is another really generous and considerate gift. Perhaps do some chores like grocery shopping or picking kids up from school. Many parents will find this more beneficial than an actual physical gift.

    If you’re set on the idea of buying and giving them something though there are some good ideas. Registering a star in the child’s name so the grieving mother and father can look up and feel like their little one is watching over them. Or for a very young child who passed away you can buy a teddy bear from Molly Bears that are made to the precise weight of the infant when they were lost. A very personal and moving gift.

    For Loss of a Partner

    When losing someone so important to us the grief can cause a sort of paralysis. The usual tasks and routines we would normally do on autopilot become much more difficult or feel pointless. Cooking, cleaning etc. suddenly don’t matter.

    So a Spa Day or Giftcard is a lovely way to give someone a treat to feel more like themselves again. Many women appreciate a gift that helps them to feel pampered and reduce the stress of what they’re going through. Massages especially offer the chance to relax and maybe forget their problems if only for a short time.

    Much like the spa gift card for a wife who’s lost her husband, a husband who’s lost his wife will also appreciate a gift that helps him to deal with the practicalities of such a loss.

    So a gift of help can be massively appreciated. A gift card for professional cleaning will reduce the burden of keeping things tidy whilst trying to process the tragic loss.

    For Loss of a Pet

    To some of us losing a pet may not seem like it needs a gift to be given for reassurance or support. But pets become parts of people’s families, and their loss can be felt as painfully as losing a loved one. So send these pet loss gift ideas should help you to

    Our dogs are some of the closest friends we ever have. So losing one is heartbreaking for the owner. And we should express our sympathy and give a gift in the exact same way we would with the loss of a human friend or relative.

    This sweet and thoughtful stone is the perfect way to remember a departed furry friend. It’s weather resistant and can be used both outdoors in the garden or placed on a table or hung as a decoration indoors. It measures 12”W x 0.5”D x 7.5”H and will always remind the recipient of their dearly missed dog.

    Dogs are mostly thought of as the pet we’re especially close to but cats are just as important, not to mention rival dogs for the most popular pet. The connection we have to our feline friends is different than with a dog but no less special.

    Etsy has a huge selection of cat loss gifts, from similar memorial stones like the one for dogs we featured, to custom portraits and gift boxes. All would be wonderful gifts to give and receive when mourning a passed kitty.

    Inexpensive Gift Ideas

    It’s understandable that you may not have the funds to stretch to many of the more expensive gift ideas listed here. So these are a few more affordable options that are still going to be gratefully received by the bereaved.

    • Custom Handwriting Sign – this maybe tricky if you don’t have access to a sample of the deceased’s handwriting but if you do then you can have it put onto various different items (jewellery, key rings etc) all for a minimal price.
    • Custom Jewellery – Jewellery probably sounds expensive but doesn’t have to be. There are lots of small, cute and sweet pieces that come with a sympathy sentiment or can be personalized. Etsy is the best place to start looking.
    • A Photo Album – you could put this together yourself if you have enough photos of the deceased but there are also digital options to make it simpler.
    • A Sympathy Card – a card with a well written message is still a great choice that can convey your condolences and let you say how sorry you are for their loss.

    Deciding on the ideal gift to offer your sympathy is not easy. Hopefully this guide will have given you some ideas and examples of what’s available and best suited to giving as a gift for bereavement. Remember though that the best gift you can give is to listen and empathise. Be there for whoever is it that needs you. Your care and desire to be a good friend to those mourning and suffering will be much better to them than any gift you can buy.